I’ve said it before and I will say it again, our time spent cycling around the Victorian Alps felt a little like paying homage to some of the best Italian brands on the market.
Northwave was clearly no exception.
The business starting making shoes for snowboarders and cyclists in the early 80s, but at the time they were doing it for other brands. Around 15 years later and Northwave clearly cottoned onto just what a quality product they had, and so they began manufacturing their own brand of cycling shoe.
This was the first time I’d worn Northwave, which is strange given I have a pretty large foot for a female, and this is a brand known for looking after those who belong in the same camp. Unfortunately for me I have a wide as well as a long foot but again, this is where Northwave come up trumps.
Certainly that was the case the moment I put my foot in the shoe (after I figured out how to do that – more on that below). Normally, shoe fitters don’t believe me at first (my overall height isn’t really in keeping with my foot size!) so they tend to come out with a size smaller, wait for me to battle it out, and then return with the elephant size I’ve originally requested. The Northwave Torpedos slipped on effortlessly. I could get my clunky, wide foot in no worries at all, and for once I didn’t feel that instant grip around the toes or the heel.
The shoes did however, catch me out at first when it came to putting them on. The Torpedo Plus uses a ratchet system to release the lace, but I couldn’t figure out how this worked. It took me a while to realise I had to pull up the small silver lever, which then slackened the lace enough for me to pull the side panels open and therefore widen the shoe enough to get my foot in. Once I’d mastered the opening, the tightening of the shoe was more in-line with my logic; just dial it in to make it snug. The ratchet does however, let you release it one dial at a time by compressing the same silver lever. The Northwave team call this Speed Lace Winch 2 Micrometric Closure. This means you’re able to pretty easily (and literally) cut yourself some slack one dial at a time as you’re riding. So in the case of my rides and all the climbing we did, as my foot warmed up and started to swell slightly, I could just release the shoe bit by bit as I rode. Easy.
Speaking of warming up, the Torpedo Plus features some well-placed ventilation slots on either side of the shoe around the arches, as well as a series of small circles that run along the inner and outer sides from the heel almost down to the toes.
Northwave Biomechanical Mapping
The team at Northwave uses BioMap technology to ensure their shoe soles are anatomically compatible with every cyclist’s feet, and that the foot position is optimised when pedalling, which in turn obviously means the rider’s energy transmits power to pedal whilst managing energy output.
The shoe didn’t quite mould itself to the sides of my feet on those first few rides. I felt it dig in slightly, a sensation that was accentuated when I got out of the saddle on some parts of the climb.
That said it was a feeling that never had me too worried. If they’d been my shoes then I would have just thought they needed a few more rides to thoroughly break in, and then they’d fit me like a glove. Or a sock. Either way – it wasn’t a deal breaker. One thing I did notice was the almost seamless design of the shoe – there was only one panel where stitching occurs, so again you’re unlikely to feel friction caused from stitching as you ride.
A carbon sole means a lighter and stiffer shoe for the cyclist, and Northwave’s Torpedo Plus delivered here. Add to this the fact the shoes are SpeedPlay compatible, and you’ve got a shoe that is going to work for pretty much all road cleats on the market.
Northwave calls the colour plain old red, but I prefer racy red as that’s exactly how they look. If you’re into bike bling, you’re going to want fire engine red stand-outs like these. If you want to play it a little more conservative, then Northwave will look after you in black or white. The racy reds went a treat with my (borrowed) Wilier Cento Uno Air; all matchy-matchy in a way that makes you want to be able to ride faster so you’re worthy of the torpedo fast look.
Once broken in, I rate the Torpedo Plus.